5 Mistakes to Avoid When Navigating Career Changes

Job hopping is increasingly common, and BLS data shows that a typical person coming towards the end of their working life today will have had 12.7 unique roles over the course of their career.

More intriguingly still, experts predict that this number will seem relatively small once the Baby Boomers are out of the workforce altogether and Gen X and Millennial professionals start to reach retirement age.

In that context, knowing how to make the transition between jobs as painless as possible is valuable. So to stop any avoidable slip-ups, here’s a look at career change snafus you’ll likely encounter.

Ignoring Your Motivations and Goals

When contemplating a career change, ignoring your motivations and goals can derail you quickly. And while 62.3% of people are satisfied with their current jobs, that doesn’t mean you’re totally fulfilling your potential.

Let’s break down why understanding these elements is crucial:

Why it Matters

  • Clarifies Direction: Knowing what drives you helps point you in a specific direction.
  • Increases Satisfaction: Aligning your work with personal values boosts job satisfaction.
  • Enhances Decision-Making: Goals serve as a guiding light when faced with choices.

Steps to Identify Your Motivations and Goals

  • Self-assessment Tools: Use assessments like Myers-Briggs or CliftonStrengths for insights.
  • Reflection Time: Spend time reflecting on past experiences to understand what aspects you enjoyed or disliked about previous roles.
  • Set SMART Goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound objectives provide clear targets to aim for in your new career path.

A landmark study from the 1960s found that goals which have just the right level of challenge to them are more motivating and will encourage better performance than easily attainable aims in 90% of cases. This should be enough to convince you to get serious about this as part of your career change process.

Overlooking Skill Gaps

Overlooking skill gaps is another element that can significantly hamper your transition into a new career. Understanding and addressing these gaps is essential to thrive in your chosen field.

Why it Matters

  • Competitive Edge: Bridging skill gaps makes you more competitive.
  • Confidence Boost: Mastery of necessary skills enhances confidence.
  • Employer Attraction: Companies prefer candidates who proactively fill their knowledge deficits.
  • Earning Potential: The more skills you have, the bigger the salary you can command. For instance, the CPA average salary is significantly higher than that of an uncertified accounts professional, so going through this qualification process could be seriously lucrative in the long term.

Steps to Address Skill Gaps

  • Identify Required Skills: Research job descriptions and industry requirements for insights.
  • Gap Analysis: Compare current skills with required ones, noting areas needing improvement.
  • Continuous Learning: Take relevant courses on platforms like Coursera or LinkedIn Learning. Attend workshops or webinars focused on emerging trends in your target field.

Lastly, think about how transferable any skills you acquire will be, as you won’t want to get locked into a job because of how specialized your capabilities have become. Digital skills are a good option in general, and can boost earnings by up to 65%.

Networking Superficially

If you only network on a surface level, then don’t be surprised if your attempts to climb the corporate ladder get curtailed. Genuine connections are far more valuable than a large but shallow network.

Why it Matters

  • Trust and Credibility: Authentic relationships build trust and credibility. And since just 60% of professionals believe they’ve earned the trust of their employer, being able to do this from day one is a real bonus.
  • Opportunities: Strong networks often lead to job opportunities and collaborations.
  • Support System: A meaningful network provides support during transitions.

Steps to Build Genuine Connections

  • Quality Over Quantity: Focus on deepening relationships with fewer contacts rather than collecting business cards.
  • Engage Authentically: Show genuine interest in others’ work, asking thoughtful questions and offering help where possible.
  • Stay Consistent: Regularly check in with your network through emails or coffee catch-ups. Share valuable content related to your field to stay top-of-mind without seeming opportunistic.

Prioritizing quality over quantity in your networking efforts lets you develop a robust support system that opens doors when you need them most. So, take the time to nurture these connections, as they’re worth their weight in gold.

Using a Generic Resume for a New Industry

Using a generic resume when transitioning to a new industry can seriously hinder your chances of landing the job you want. Tailoring your resume is what it takes to make a strong impression.

Why it Matters

  • Relevance: A tailored resume highlights relevant skills and experiences. Aim for honesty here, as while 70% of people aren’t entirely truthful with resume inclusions, you don’t want to risk being caught out by a lie.
  • First Impressions: Customized resumes make you stand out in applicant pools.
  • Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS): Specific keywords increase the chance of passing ATS screenings.

Steps to Customize Your Resume

  • Research Job Requirements: Carefully read job descriptions to understand what employers seek.
  • Highlight Relevant Skills and Experiences: Emphasize past roles and accomplishments that align with the new industry’s needs. Use specific language from job postings where applicable. Showcase transferable skills clearly linked to prospective roles.

Tailoring each application specifically for its intended role will inevitably increase your likelihood of capturing the attention of recruiters. Given that Zippia data shows the chances of getting offered a job are 26.24%, this is something that can tip the scales in your favor.

Ignoring Financial Risks During Transitions

Overlooking the financial aspect of changing careers can lead to stress and instability – as well as making you 60% more susceptible to serious illnesses. Preparing for the fallout of this is therefore important.

Why it Matters

  • Security: Financial planning provides a safety net.
  • Focus: Less financial worry means you can focus more on your new role.
  • Longevity: Proper planning helps sustain you through potential initial low earnings or job search periods.

Steps to Manage Financial Risks

  • Create a Budget: It’s necessary to manage your income carefully at all times. So, outline all monthly expenses and compare them with expected income. Then, identify areas where you can cut costs temporarily. Finally, plan for emergencies by setting aside funds in an easily accessible account.
  • Save Aggressively Before Transition: Aim to build up at least six months’ worth of living expenses saved up as a cushion.
  • Consider Part-Time Work or Gig Economy Jobs: Supplement your income while transitioning if possible, giving yourself extra security without overcommitting.

Basically, you can’t afford to bury your head in the sand when it comes to financial stability, regardless of your circumstances. With your money matters in order, your career change can go ahead unhindered.

Final Thoughts

These pitfalls associated with changing careers may sound more than a little intimidating, but they should not put you off taking the plunge. Hopefully we’ve provided you with the advice you need to move forward and achieve bigger and better things in the world of work, while leaving stress and stagnation by the wayside.

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  • About the Curator

    Abelino Silva. Seeker of the truth. Purveyor of facts. Mongrel to the deceitful. All that, and mostly a blogger who enjoys acknowledging others that publish great content. Say hello 🙂

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